David LaChapelle's 2007 documentary Rize paid tribute to L.A.'s krumping community, using graceful, sophisticated cinematography to capture its raw, exhilarating energy. Rize glorified krumping without cheapening or sensationalizing it—a rare achievement when it comes to street dance.


Flex Is Kings has similar goals. Directed by Michael Beach Nichols and Deidre Schoo, the film depicts "flex," a style with roots in Jamaica that came into its own in the gritty Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York. Flex features unbelievable "bone-breaking" contortions, effortless gliding, and elaborate hat tricks—all in the service of storytelling. It's a sort of street circus. (Storyboard P, recently profiled in The New Yorker, uses elements of flex in his dancing.)


Flex, however, can be a tricky style to capture on screen. When the flex crew The Ringmasters competed on "America's Best Dance Crew," for instance, the style lost some of its potency in the glossy television setting and the flex crew was eliminated early on. Yet Flex is Kings presents Flex dancers in context—on the streets of East New York, preparing for Battlefest, the ultimate competition for "extreme street dancers.


The film features a cast of singular characters. Flizzo, a flashy showman who once famously released a bird from his mouth as a "punchline" during a performance, is trying to keep dancing while facing new responsibilities as a father; Jay Donn, one of the "ABDC" competitors, is introduced to the world of concert dance when baroque-modern dance group Company XIV invites him to star in their adaptation of Pinocchio.



Jay Donn in a scene from Flex Is Kings. Photo courtesy Visit Films.


Flex Is Kings, which was featured at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, has a series of screenings coming up across the country. Take a look at the trailer below (warning: an expletive is used), then click here to find out if it's coming to a city near you.


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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

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